Frozzd, by Jesse Venbrux, was the winner of the YoYo Games winter competition... If that isn’t enough reason to start downloading now, perhaps I should add that I enjoyed this game more than Super Mario Galaxy... actually, besides being a platformer with mini-planets like Mario, Frozzd is otherwise a totally unique game with a couple of highly original elements.
First of all, it’s more like a “platform RTS”. Your spacedude jumpman avatar collects stars that work like army units, which attack enemies and can heal other stars. What’s special is that moving your units is done by running and jumping, giving a much more direct feel than selecting and commanding units with your mouse. This also means that the terrain becomes much more compelling because your units can move very fast and use platforms/hills on a whim. Healing, attacking, moving and adding additional units to your squad all happen automatically, letting the player focus much more on the action.
Second, it’s possible to use the gravity of the small planets to create awesome jumps (sort of like the flinging-jumps in Portal). This isn’t necessary to complete the game, but it’s fun to toy around with the physics, adding new sensations to 2D platforming.
Together, the game had me imagining what a Mario/Starcraft/Tony Hawk hybrid would be like, one which fluidly mixes elements of war strategy and platform jumping skills. Frozzd only reveals the tip of this iceberg fantasy, but it gives a good hands-on example.
Besides being original, Frozzd is also smooth and exciting game. The story never interrupts playing the game, the controls are responsive, death only stops the action for less than a second, the game is automatically saved, the music is pleasant and even the end-boss fight is awesome.
Super Mario Galaxy gave the Nintendo Wii an immense popular boost. Here’s hoping that Frozzd will do the same for independently developed games.